CLEVELAND – Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., the biggest U.S. tire maker, said Wednesday it plans to cut 5,000 jobs this year after swinging to a fourth-quarter loss as sales sank 21 percent.
The cuts equal almost 7 percent of the Akron, Ohio-based company's work force and follow the elimination of about 4,000 jobs in the second half of last year.
Goodyear lost $330 million, $1.37 per share, in the fourth quarter, after a profit of $52 million, or 23 cents per share, a year earlier.
The company lost $1.18 per share, excluding one-time charges or gains, in the most recent quarter. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected a loss of $1.03 cents per share on that basis.
Sales dipped to $4.1 billion from $5.2 billion a year earlier.
The company said the global economy depressed tire sales in the recent quarter by 19 percent.
As a strategy to boost sales, Goodyear said it will step up new product offerings. These include its Assurance Fuel Max tire, which was introduced earlier this month and will go on General Motors' new Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle.
Besides the job cuts, Goodyear is freezing salaries, putting restrictions on some spending and putting in place purchasing strategies aimed at lowering raw materials costs.
Goodyear also plans to reduce its global tire capacity by 15 million and 25 million tires over two years while seeking ways to improve cash flow this year. It is reducing capital expenditures, inventory levels and is looking to sell noncore assets.
Robert J. Keegan, Goodyear chairman and chief executive officer, said in a prepared statement the actions reflect new economic realities.
"We will remain flexible and are prepared to take additional actions if market conditions warrant. Our goal is to ensure Goodyear is positioned for success when tire markets recover," he said.